MOSCOW – Following a meeting, KHL President Alexander Medvedev confirmed three clubs that will join the Russian-based league next year. Apart from Finnish team Jokerit Helsinki the KHL will see the return of Lada Togliatti and a new team in Sochi.
“We can speak about the joining of a club from Sochi, Lada and Jokerit to the KHL as a fact,” Medvedev told R-Sport.
The teams can participate in an Expansion Draft to acquire players from current KHL teams that are not put on a “protection list” by them as it was already done last summer for Admiral Vladivostok.
That Finland’s most popular team would join has been known for almost a year after a Russian takeover of the arena and part of the club, which caused controversy in Finland.
Lada Togliatti was excluded from the KHL in 2010 due to financial problems and lack of a modern facility and will be allowed to join thanks to a new arena.
A club in Sochi – rumours say it will be named Delfin Sochi – is planned to play at Shayba Arena, the secondary ice hockey venue for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games while the Bolshoy Ice Dome will be used as multifunctional venue.
The trio would increase the number of KHL teams to 31. However, the future of Spartak Moscow remains unclear after the main sponsor has withdrawn its funding. On the other hand, the KHL is in contact with other clubs including Norway’s Vålerenga Oslo.
The KHL clubs also decided to increase the number of import players from five to seven. All but two teams voted in favour of the rule that applies mostly to Russian teams while foreign teams may have different rules in agreement with their national ice hockey bodies.